Bruce Feldman has his latest article out on CBS Sports, and it has complimentary things to stay about the Stanford Cardinal football program and how the team is still feeling the effects of Jim Harbaugh's 2007 super class. That class brought in quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive guard David DeCastro, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, safety Delano Howell and linebacker Chase Thomas. All five of these players could be first round draft picks the next two years, which would be remarkable considering the class was ranked 50th in the conference.
What's most interesting is that Stanford didn't make any significant changes in their recruiting strategy. Stanford has always been pretty strict in finding the players they want in their program, and apparently their ability to be selective is what's made them stronger. Read a snippet of the piece after the jump.
he year before Harbaugh and his staff arrived in Palo Alto, the Cardinal had a bunch of guys who would go on to play in the NFL, but the team still only went 1-11. "When we first got here, we were under strict orders from Coach Harbaugh that we're gonna find the toughest players we could find, guys that would practically ball up their fists and fight," says Shaw. "Back then, Stanford had a rep that it could play with anybody for awhile, but that the team did not have the toughness to finish the game. We had to change the mindset."
Harbaugh's staff viewed toughness as a "talent" not much different than speed or strength. Except grit might've been even more valued. A prime example was DeCastro, an unheralded lineman from the Seattle-area.
"We loved David [DeCastro] right away," says Haskins. "We knew he was gonna be a stud. He was playing center and just mauling guys, but maybe some people thought he was smaller on film than he was. When we saw him in person, it's 'Whoa!' It was a no-brainer.
"That whole class was special. They took a lot of ownership. Every class tries to do that but they really did. Those guys were such good teammates. They also mimicked Jim's intensity and focus."
Getting players who are both physically and mentally tough is a solid strategy, since they're less likely to bottom out or transfer due to off-the-field issues and endure the football and the academic grind. It's a feel-good story in the feel-bad world of college sports.
Apparently, doing things the right way with regards to recruiting is now a cool trend. What a shocker.
To discuss Stanford football recruiting, head on over to Rule of Tree.